My podcasting business and responsibilities have grown enough that I realize I need a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
That feels a little too corporate to me. It's like I'm becoming a robot without a personality. But I'm very quickly overwhelmed with the requests for my attention and this is a way out of that. I really want to be accessible and spend time fully responding to every message, but I can't respond to everything for free, or else I would be a bad steward of my time and my responsibility to provide for my family.
A big source of such stress comes from my multiple inboxes. Requests for consulting, questions about products and services, questions about podcasting, feedback for my podcasts, and more. I can't handle it all, so that's where a CRM can help me and my assistants tag, organize, prioritize, and respond to each important message I receive.
My search for the right CRM has been frustrating. Thus, I invite your suggestions—whether you're a user or employee of a CRM provider.
Here's what I need in a CRM.
Integrate with/take over email accounts (potentially Gmail)
All of my email addresses are merely aliases that forward to a single Gmail account. These messages do receive some automated filtering and tagging within Gmail. Then, I can send from any these aliases.
I need a CRM to take over these email accounts for future conversations, plus integrate with previous conversations I've already had.
Many messages that I receive can be answered quickly by pointing to my large catalog of content I've already created. Thus, I would prefer an assistant to have the first view of incoming messages to particular addresses. That assistant could then reply on my behalf, or tag important messages for me to either address personally or consider for creating further content on my site.
Integrate with MailChimp
I use MailChimp as my email service provider. With any CRM, I need it to integrate with MailChimp to at least let me know whether the person I'm emailing is already on my list (and what group/segment they're in). It would be extra nice if I could easily add them to a list and group from the CRM.
Integrate with social
I want the CRM to show me the person's Twitter, Facebook, and other social accounts, plus maybe even their bios and latest messages from such accounts. Then, show me whether I'm already connected with that person and let me choose to connect with them right from the CRM.
So far, so good, right? The following is where most CRMs begin to fail.
Integration with WooCommerce and an API
I use WooCommerce for selling on The Audacity to Podcast™ as well as Podcasters' Society™. The ideal CRM would show me what products, memberships, or services a person has purchased from me. There would also need to be an API for connecting with my proprietary system in My Podcast Reviews.
Social lead generation
An important part of my business is monitoring relevant conversations on social networks. I have saved Twitter searches that help me find podcasters who need podcasting help or should use My Podcast Reviews™. If possible, I would also like to monitor Facebook groups, Google+ communities, subreddits, Quora, and such (goodbye, most popular CRMs).
Let's take Twitter for example. When I see a tweet matching my detailed search query, I need to immediately see whether I have ever tweeted that person before and whether they're already a customer (through integration with WooCommerce and My Podcast Reviews). Then, give me and my assistants the ability to respond and let me see that it was responded to and who did it. Afterward, that account would be marked as having already received a response from me at some point.
Plus, such searches and responses would be different for different social accounts. Thus, the CRM would need to support multiple social accounts (there goes Nimble, if I didn't already disqualify it).
For email and social, I need to have multiple templates my assistants can use to respond. Such templates would be great if they were intelligent enough to prefill with the recipient's name. I know TextExpander can do that, but that means extra software.
A mobile-friendly website is nice, but it would be best if the CRM is available as a standalone mobile app that provides all the functionality on mobile.
A single platform
I'm not interested in paying for and managing several different platforms to each do separate things. I want a single place to login and have the tools I need.
I don't want to spend days learning how to use a complicated CRM, and it would defeat the purpose for me to hire someone only to manage my CRM. Thus, the CRM must be simple enough that I can get working with its workflow on the same day I sign up.
I'm willing to pay for this solution because I recognize the value in the time and frustration it will save. But to me, “affordable,” means under $100/month for two or three users.
I may update this post with additional needs. Is there any CRM that meets all these needs?
I've looked at Nimble, Insightly, Contactly, FullContact, HootSuite, Zoho CRM, Apptivo, Nutshell, PipelineDeals, Salesforce.com, and OnePageCRM. They all fall short in crucial areas (usually the social integration). I'll also be looking at others. But I'm starting to lose hope.
What do you suggest, based on my needs?